The technical challenge for bread week on this year’s Great British Bake Off was a naan bread with garlic ghee made with baking powder instead of yeast, and cooked under the grill instead of in a tandoor oven. I wasn’t that keen to try the recipe to be honest, but I had set out to attempt all of the technical challenges and to give up only three weeks in seemed defeatist. I did make them and here’s how they turned out.
You can’t see underneath, which is a good thing, because, underneath, they’re not cooked at all.
The recipe for the naan and garlic ghee is available here on the Great British Bake Off website. When I saw that the recipe was classed as “easy” I felt more optimistic. Perhaps I’d have a better chance of success with this one than I had with previous bread week challenges, like the terrible fougasse or baguettes. The recipe might be easy. What’s difficult is making the grill pan hot enough for the recipe to work.
Here’s how I made my half-cooked naan bread.
Step One: The Dough
I mixed plain flour, salt and baking powder together in the bowl of the KitchenAid. The recipe says that you should knead the dough by hand, but hand kneading’s not for me. I can’t stand the squidiness of wet dough on my hands, or the mess that the sink gets into when I wash it off. Dough in the sink, all over the taps, and the tea towels. It just gets everywhere. I hate it.
Anyway, I mixed the wet ingredients, milk, yogurt and egg, with some caster sugar in a jug. I made a well in the centre of the flour mixture and poured all of the wet ingredients into it. I started up the KitchenAid. On the Bake Off, Paul Hollywood did say that the dough would be quite wet. Here’s mine.
You can see that “quite wet” is an understatement. It’s more of a batter than a dough.
I kept the KitchenAid running for much longer than the suggested kneading time of five minutes, but it didn’t seem to be getting any more solid, so I put it into and oiled bowl and left it to rest. The recipe says that you need to leave the dough for half an hour. I left mine for longer, because I had bed time to take care of.
Step Two: Garlic Ghee
My mind wasn’t really on the task in hand when I made the ghee. I just put some salted butter in a pan over a low heat and left it. I was supposed to skim the foam from the surface, but nothing seemed to be rising to the surface. The heat couldn’t have been high enough. I did strain it through a muslin square though. Is Bake Off is being paid by manufacturers of muslin squares this series I wonder? It’s the second recipe in a row that’s needed one.
I stirred some chopped garlic into the butter. Even if the ghee wasn’t perfect, I don’t think there’s much you can do wrong with garlic and melted butter.
Step Three: Shaping and Baking
I returned to the dough, which was still a sloppy mess. The only way I was going to be able to make anything that resembled a naan shape out of it was by using a lot of flour on the work surface. I must have dumped half a packet onto it before I tipped the dough out. Using a combination of pressing and rolling, I managed to make the dough into sort of naan shapes ready for the super-hot grill pan.
My husband had had the oven on high for a really long time, and I switched over to grill and left it on high for while. I’m not sure how long, but it was longer than the five minutes suggested by the recipe. I took it out and, as quickly as I could put one of the naans onto it. The dough stretched massively out of shape as I put it onto the pan, but straightening it out without taking my oven gloves off wasn’t possible.
I put it under the grill. The top wasn’t at all puffed up when I checked it after the 2 minutes cooking time suggested in the recipe. All of my naans had three and a half minutes. They looked really good when they came out of the oven. I brushed them with the garlic butter and sprinkled chopped coriander over the top.
Was It Worth It?
The naan may have looked good from the top, but they were raw underneath. The grill pan hadn’t been hot enough. The trouble is, I can’t see how it could have got any hotter. The oven had been on high for ages before the naans went in, and then, the grill had been on full for a long time as well. I’ve seen a suggestion here, that a pizza stone may do the trick. If I was going to try them again, I may try using one.
The question is though, will I try them again. Well, I might, but only if I’m making a homemade curry which, to be honest, isn’t that often (less than once a year). If I did try them, I’d be more careful when adding the wet ingredients, so my dough wouldn’t be as sloppy and I’d try to get the oven temperature sorted out.
I can’t help being disappointed with the Bake Off technical challenges so far. Come on Bake Off. Give me something that’s a challenge, but ends up being so good that I want to make it again. Please.